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Welcome to another installment of the X-ray Beam series.
I am very proud to have the lawyer/blogger behind OthalaFehu place his body under the x-ray beam to reveal his inner workings.
I am not sure how I stumbled upon his blog but I am glad I did (who says doctors and lawyers are like oil and water?).
Of all the blogs I follow regularly, I would like to say that this is by the far the most unusual name I have come across. Can you tell us the origin of your blog moniker and what inspired you to choose it?
Well first off, thank you, I take a perverse amount of pride in being labeled ‘unusual’.
I have been practicing pagan for decades now, mostly along the lines of the Old Norse faith.
The name ‘OthalaFehu’ is the combination of two different runes (ancient writing system of the Germanic peoples).
Othala refers to your ancestral property or hearth, and Fehu refers to one’s wealth and position that you have earned.
The combination made sense for an anonymous personal net worth blog.
What were some of the other names that you considered before going with this one?
I even mentioned in an early post that had I been thinking about marketing I would have gone with the Money Viking.
But no, I chose to be forever linked with an unpronounceable blog name that only makes sense to 300 people somewhere deep inside of Scandinavia.
What drew you to the profession of law? Was there a person or persons that inspired you to become a lawyer?
3 factors, none of them very noble.
First, I am bad at math.
Second, back in the late 1990’s, law school was the default option for anyone who had been told they were smart but still did not have a real career goal in mind.
Lastly, I have always been deeply concerned with the concept of fairness and its implementation.
Unfortunately, this stems from a place of selfishness, jealousy, and petty revenge more than anything virtuous.
Ask a question, get an answer 🙂
If you were not a lawyer, what alternative career would you have gone into?
I would have loved to have been a college professor, or a writer, or part of a think tank, if anyone would have me.
The physician blogging community is fairly close knit and, for the most part, quite collaborative. The phrase, “a rising tide lifts all boats,” is often bandied about and I really do feel it rings true amongst us.
Do you find a similar camaraderie amongst lawyers and financial blogs?
We (FIRE types who are also lawyers) have openly lamented this before.
What if we had our shit together like the doctors, wouldn’t that be great?
The best reasons we can come up with for the difference is that lawyer relationships are adversarial in nature which does not lend itself well to collusion.
Also, almost all lawyers dislike their jobs and it is hard to whip up collective enthusiasm for a profession with so much internal dissatisfaction.
Physicians are notorious for being bad at personal finance. Do you feel a similar sentiment directed towards the legal profession?
I do think a fair amount of lawyers suffer from ‘Big Man Watch Syndrome’ (my pet name for needing to display wealth), but in general you guys are the worst at 2 things, penmanship and tending to your own personal finances.
Have there been any financial decisions you regret having made (or in retrospect should have made)?
When me and my wife are feeling particularly arrogant, we always wonder how far we might have gone if we had just balls out gone for it.
Dedicate your life and mental energy to being the best ‘whatever’ you could be.
At the end of the day, we are OK with where we chose to plant our feet, but dreaming can be fun.
When did you develop an interest in personal finance and was there an event that brought personal finance to the forefront of your consciousness?
I was poor and had little in the way of help from outside persons (I do acknowledge help from institutions).
Anyway, I had to figure out money and budgets or I was not going to get through school and early adulthood.
Later on, downtime at my government job led me to explore the PF [Personal Finance] internet niche to such an extent that I became obsessed.
If you had a time machine and could go back to any point in time and change just one thing, what would it be?
Cheap answer, but hang on to my FANG stocks I bought at ridiculously low prices.
As a matter of fact, I would like to double down on my original positions and retire thank you very much.
What inspired you to start a blog? Were there any surprises along the way?
I loved looking at other people’s net worth.
Then I realized I had been tracking a bunch of my own PF stats for 10 years and that data could translate to my own thoroughly catalogued net worth blog.
I figured I owed it to my fellow voyeurs who let me look at their financials all these years.
I was not surprised to find out I am a narcissist.
I know some of your most popular posts have to do with being a “prepper.” For those unfamiliar with this terminology can you explain what a prepper is. Do you consider yourself a prepper? Any insight on how you became a disciple of this philosophy?
I like this definition, it sounds more normal and less nutjob; ‘A person actively preparing or being prepared for situations that may affect the stability of home, life, or financial situation.’
Yes, much to my wife’s chagrin, I am a full blown Prepper.
Take a young kid and fill him so full of various insecurities that he will never be able to relax until he has outwitted or outlasted every possible bad scenario his twisted mind can come up with.
A Prepper is born.
Also George Romero (Night of The Living Dead) really affected me.
For a reader unfamiliar to your website, what are three posts you are most proud of that they can gain an insight about you and your philosophies?
An overall guide: A Simple Plan To Financial Security
And Life Philosophy: Mos Maiorum
Is there a book (or books) that has made a major impact in your financial well-being?
Not that much, but if pressed I would say ‘The Millionaire Next Door’.
Can you name 5 things that had the greatest financial impact on you?
Being both middle class suburbia and poor at different times during my formative years.
Getting married to a like-minded spouse.
Getting married to a spouse that out earns me.
Absorbing the debt that comes with 2 people going through law school.
The early death of my in-laws at age 62.
Can you share with us a hidden talent that most people would be shocked to find out about you?
I can do the worm, surprisingly well.
It is all about absolute commitment.
You get to pick one person who is dead and one person who is currently alive to answer any questions you may have. Who would you choose and why?
For Dead, either Attila the Hun or Pope Leo I.
I need to know what was said that made Attila turn away from Rome in 452 AD.
For Alive, Air Force General Larry D Welch, U.S. Chief of Staff 1986-1990.
I figure that is high enough up to tell me if there are really aliens or not.
He is also the oldest one still living and I figure he would be easier to trick into telling me something he shouldn’t.
The topic of physician burnout has been gaining momentum in the medical circles. Is there a similar phenomenon in the legal profession? If so, what steps have you taken to minimize the chance of burnout?
There is a definite parallel in the legal profession.
Most lawyers I know are not happy.
I personally took a pay cut a few years back to enter into a different type of legal job.
It was entirely worth it to change up work place cultures.
At this point, my job is not stressful.
I would highly encourage any lawyer to find a law job where you no longer have to go to trial. 🙂
Do you have an annual retirement spending goal that you are aiming for? A target net worth? What would be your exit strategy after achieving these goals?
I am looking at spending $70k a year.
For that I figure I need $ 1,750,000 in investible assets.
There is a post about it: The Finish Line.
Let us say you have hit your target number for financial independence. Would you a) continue to practice law the way you do now, b) continue to work but reduce clinical workload/eliminate certain components, or c) exit law completely regardless of age?
I think I would stay put awhile.
My FI number will be achieved before my youngest child is out of the house.
Those years are unpredictable and I might wait to pull the trigger until I am looking at an empty nest.
Especially since my current job is not stressful.
Again thank you so much for your time answering these questions and being placed under the “X-ray beam.” I look forward to your continued posts and wish you much success.
If you are interested in checking out previous individuals that were brave enough to expose themselves to the beams of the X-ray, please check them out here.
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